Norton is one of the best-known names in the antivirus industry. These days, of course, you need more than just antivirus: a good security suite should protect all your devices from all current threats. And that’s really what’s behind the 360 name: it means all-round protection.
Over the past year or so, more features have been added including a VPN service, protection for webcams and dark web monitoring so you’re alerted if any of your email addresses (and other sensitive information) is spotted for sale.
Ease of Use & Features
Like many of its competitors Norton 360 is a relatively slick-looking and easy-to-use product. There’s now a new interface which pops up first, which essentially adds easy access to the newer stuff including the VPN, cloud backup and password manager, but the old interface (called classic) is still there when you click on Device Security, and still includes performance optimisations.
There are quite a few modules which work together to keep your data, credentials and identity safe:
Dark web monitoring
Parental controls (not in 360 Standard)
The monitoring is perhaps the only item in the list that needs explaining. Norton bought LifeLock a couple of years ago, and has integrated it not just into the company name (Norton LifeLock) but into Norton 360. Put simply, it keeps an eye on sites on the dark web in case any of your details pop up for sale, and it will then notify you if they do so you can take action to change passwords, email addresses and so on.
The feature is available in 360 Deluxe, 360 Premium and the new 360 for Gamers.
It will begin by monitoring for the email address you use for your Norton account, but you can add the following information for monitoring as well:
Driver’s license number
Mother’s maiden name
5 insurance account numbers or Identification (e.g. medical, property)
5 physical addresses
5 email addresses
5 phone numbers
10 bank account numbers
10 credit card numbers
10 gamer tags
SafeCam is another useful feature. It monitors for apps which request use the camera on your device and alerts you so you can block those attempts if necessary.
Norton’s antivirus engine benefits from technology and cloud support provided by parent company Symantec, including SONAR Protection. This detects malware by examining the behaviour of running applications. Like all antivirus, its performance varies from month to month, but according to AV-Test’s latest report, it managed perfect scores.
If that’s not good enough, Norton offers a “100% guarantee” that viruses will be removed – including by its own experts. And if they can’t, you get your money back.
The Windows app is discreet with few pop-ups appearing at all. Occasionally, you’ll see a message about the background scan completing – in Windows, that is – but because it runs when you’re not using your computer, it’s hardly intrusive. In fact, one of the only times you’re guaranteed to see a pop-up is when Norton analyses downloaded files for you, which is a good thing.
With web attacks ever increasing in number (and sophistication), good web protection is essential, and Norton provides plenty of cover. There’s Browsing Protection, for example, which prevents web-based malware exploiting known browser vulnerabilities as you surf, and sites are flagged by reputation in search results. Web downloads are also analysed, and after scanning, a report on their safety pops up.
If you don’t add this battery of web protection when you first install the product, after a week or so Norton asks if you’d like to revisit your decision. A downside here is that if you click all four Install links (as shown below), your home page changes to a Norton search page. This may raise the hackles of some users with memories of a time when products would routinely try to change your home page to dodgy search engines that produce commercially skewed results. But, naturally, you don’t have to do this.
There’s also a dedicated Intrusion Prevention module blocks attacks from infected computers connected to your network. This is particularly welcome given the increasing amount of malware seeking to spread to other local computers after an initial infection.
Although we weren’t overly impressed with Norton’s VPN service, when you’re getting it bundled effectively free with Norton 360 it’s harder to criticise. It will protect you when your on your phone or laptop in cafes and airports with public Wi-Fi, but isn’t really for unblocking Netflix or other content.
Cloud backup is valuable and adds an extra layer of protection for your most precious files, even though there’s ransomware protection built into the main antivirus module for files stored locally.
The bundled performance tools cover the usual bases, and comprise three modules: Optimise Disk, File Cleanup and Startup Manager. They’re not really security features and can be considered more of a bonus.
The File Cleanup facility is useful as it frees up space occupied by temporary files. Startup Manager uses community data to let you know which of your apps use a lot of resources so you can decide which ones to disable.
Finally there’s a useful graph showing all major events including malware detections, scans and security alerts, along with the use of performance tools.
After 30 days of use, a Report Card pops up to give you a summary of what the product did for you in the previous month. This includes the number of WiFi networks protected, file cleanups performed, analysed downloads and the amount of disk space cleared of temporary files.
In terms of configuration, plenty of options usually means plenty of confusion, but here everything is laid out in a logical manner, with simple on/off switched, and help is available for every setting.
There’s also a Silent Mode which stops pop-ups and scheduled tasks.
Norton 360: Price & Availability
Deluxe sits a rung lower than the most expensive consumer offering from Norton. That title goes to Norton 360 Premium, which protects 10 devices, offers 75GB of online storage, and parental control tools. If you want something more stripped down, there’s the Standard version, which protects just one device, includes 10GB of cloud storage and lacks the parental controls.
The price of Norton 360 Deluxe’s protection officially weighs in at £84.99 / US$104.99 for up to five devices including PC, Mac, iOS and Android, though hefty discounts are available for the first year from the Norton website which is why we’ve chosen to list the discounted price of £29.99/US$34.99. That will get you one year of protection including 50GB of cloud storage, but the price – even discounted – jumps up to £89.99 for two years in the UK.
But don’t forget Norton’s VPN service, password manager and dark web monitoring is included in the package.
Get Norton 360 Deluxe here.
Alternatively it’s available to purchase from Currys PC World, Argos and Amazon.
US readers can sign up to Norton here.
You won’t choose Norton because of its bundled VPN service, which is really only good for protection on public Wi-Fi, but everything else is very impressive. Malware protection is top notch, and there are useful extras such as the cloud backup which offers extra protection for your important files beyond ransomware protection for the files on your devices.
Add in the password manager, plus the fact that the subscription can be used on five devices, and it really lives up to its name.
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